Mohler on “Asking Jesus Into Your Heart”

 A few weeks ago, we looked at the phrase “personal relationship with Jesus” in light of Scriptural teaching. Today, we will look at another popular phrase: “Ask Jesus into your heart.”

On the August 8, 2007 edition of The Albert Mohler Program, a called asked Dr. Mohler: “Could you inform me where the term ‘ask Jesus into your heart’ came from and is it the proper way to be converted?”

The following is an edited transcript of Dr. Mohler’s helpful response:

The phrase “Ask jesus into your heart” comes out of the emotionalism of Revivalism. Revivalism is a very important movement. I came out of churches very much affected by revivalism. There is much to be thankful for there; there is also much to be concerned about there in terms of their understanding of conversion as something that is more emotionally driven than is described in the Scripture in terms of the faith that justifies. The faith that justifies, the faith that saves is a faith that means trusting Christ and his promises and receiving the promises of salvation.

Let me tell you the danger in the phrase “ask Jesus into your heart.” Is it heresy? Absolutely not. It’s not heresy. It’s not a false way of describing the gospel. It does, for instance, on the positive side get to the fact that the heart must be involved. In other words, saving faith is demonstrated in the individual’s life coming to Christ when they do believe, and there is a decision made within the heart to believe. There is a yielding to Christ, a trusting that is a decision of the heart.

Of course, the big question is where does that decision come from? How does the heart become ready for that positive response, that trusting response to Christ? “Ask Jesus into your heart” is wrapped up in evangelical sentimentality. It’s not wrong. But it is not the best way of describing salvation.

The phrase comes back to a misuse of a biblical text in Revelation. “Behold I stand at the door and knock.” Is Jesus standing ready for all those who respond to him in faith? Absolutely. But he’s not just waiting and watching. The New Testament picture of Jesus, the biblical portrait of God is not just of a god who waits and watches but rather of a God who saves.

Is the heart involved? Absolutely. It’s emotional language. And we’re an emotional people. Especially in a movement like revivalism that became very adept at reaching people on an emotional level, it’s not wrong; it’s just not as right as it could be. It’s not wrong when someone says, “I became a Christian when I asked Jesus into my heart.” It’s not wrong. But you need to make sure they really understand what they’re doing there. 

[Salvation is] not just saying yes to a relationship. That is the sad and minimal part of this that people don’t understand. It’s trusting Christ and his promises. You know in the New Testament, there is this whole idea of fiducia, faith – I love the way the Puritans put it when they said: “it is finally resting in Christ.” So it’s more that we are in Him than that He is in us. Of course, he does dwell within us. But it’s not as if we are the host and he is our guest. He is the Lord and we acknowledge him as our Savior.

posted by Trevin Wax

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15 Responses to Mohler on “Asking Jesus Into Your Heart”

  1. Gavin says:

    I find Dr. Mohler’s criticism of this phrase actually stops short of what I was hoping for.

    Biblically, it doesn’t seem “not as right as it could be.”

    Its nowhere to be found in Scripture and it puts the burden of effect on “asking,” not on the Holy Spirit and the Gospel.

    This phrase seems to be more of an effect of regeneration – indwelling of the Spirit.

    I have said to my people many times – Jesus never commanded anyone to ask Himself into their hearts.

  2. Tony Kummer says:

    Speaking as a father and children’s pastor … the phrase seems to confuse children about the proper response to the Gospel. Repent and Believe.

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  4. pbandj says:

    i think there is something we should be careful about in regard to “revivalism”, which mohler imports.

    his statement is that we are “emotional people” and thus should have an emotional aspect to our salvation, etc. is he right?

    of course!!! we are emotional, but we are also rational and actional. what i mean is this, “Love YHWH God with all your heart, mind and strength.” God doesnt separate our emotions from our intellect or our actions. they are all part of who we are.

    being raised in a SBC (or similar) type environment, i have seen many people overemphasize the emotional aspect of following Christ and ignore the intellectual and actional.

    being around other denominations, i have seen many who are intellectual but not emotional or actional. and i have been around some who are actional and not emotional or intellectual.

    any of the characteristics without the others, i think, leaves us fragmented and unable to love God with our whole being.

    that is why i think we should be careful to use the phrase “ask Jesus into your heart”.


  5. “Accept Jesus into your heart” seems to be an inference from the verse Dr. Mohler quoted and the verses that talk about believing in one’s heart (Romans 10, I believe it is).

    Is it a wrong inference? I don’t think it is. Poorly worded inference? Probably so. Poorly connected verses? Most certainly. Invalid phrase, then? Nah. It’s not something to get upset about.

    As long as we are clear about the things mentioned above this comment, and our listeners understand those things, I think it’s not wrong to use that phrase.

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  10. pduggie says:

    Glad to see him qualifying the use of the “stand at the door and knock” passage in Revelation.

    Realizing that that was Jesus speaking to a whole church, and promising communion with them (“eat with me”) opened my eyes to the misuse of that text.

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  14. Ephesians 3:17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;

    The heart here denotes the ruling center of the person. Threrefore it is the beliver making Christ the ruler of their. Placing a new King upon the throne of our life. Is there a need to understand the meaning behind the phrase. Yes. When Jesus Christ truly enters a heart there is a dramatic change. This is on every level as He becomes the Lord of the persons life. The problem is and I agree we have made Christianity about the quick fix and we have then forgotten to teach the deeper meaning of Him being Lord. We must share that there is a Damascus road experience and a true movement toward repemntance and a need to pursue our relationship with the Father Through Jesus Christ not because of what we get but because of what He has done for us. Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these things shal be added unto you. The first step is to ask Him to sit on the throne of your life, the heart if you will. Thus the phrase in Ephesians. That action He has done was what He did on the cross and continues to do as He lives to intercede for us. But He is a gentleman as He does wait at the door and let us not dismiss knocking as a passive action. If I really need to talk to someone and I am on the outside, I can assure you I can make my knock heard and depending on the thickness of the door and the hearing of the person on the inside and their proximity to that door Knocking can be serious work.

  15. Kanna says:

    It is By Grace we are saved Through Faith . Now Ephesians 2 chapter will talk about Salvation. Ephesians will Solve the Problem of This issue.. it is the GODS WORD always Helps us. Read Ephesians 2 Chapter… And when you are saved Meditate on Ephesians 4 chapter to walk with Christ. God Bless you.

    A Brother from India, Hyderabad

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